The New Age of Mixtape Making

The late 90’s and early 2000’s marked the period of teen romance movies.

Movies that catered unapologetically to one specific audience: tweens who were too young to embark on their own big love stories. These movies (Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed—to name a few notables) allowed for teenagers to vicariously experience what it was like to fall in love, and to be loved back.

Image from 1989’s drama Say Anything.

Being versed in the realm of romantic comedies, I can say with quite a bit of certainty that the most captivating part of watching a love story unfold on screen isn’t the big gesture at the end, where the boy stands outside the girl’s window holding up a boombox.

In fact, it’s the slow procession. The I-don’t-know-if-I-love-them-yet tango, where the audience realizes the two protagonists are in love before they do.

And how do we know they are in love? The same way we know ourselves to be in love. The unwavering gaze that follows across the crowded room. Subtle adoption of their hobbies and interests. Major inconveniences on our part for the other person’s minor joy.

But the most romantic gesture that avid rom-com movie-goers know to supersede all others is the art of making a mixtape.

There’s arguably nothing more vulnerable to a collective Aww! from an audience than the main character compiling all their feelings and thoughts about the other person into one good mixtape.

However, mixtapes are not just made to get the girl. Mixtape making has been long regarded as a form of self-expression, and even to the rare population of individuals who don’t listen to music, it makes sense.

Choosing from thousands of songs to find the few that perfectly capture a particular mood (i.e. Barney Stinson’s infamous Get Psyched Mix) requires deliberation. Careful, attentive selection. As expressed by Rob Gordon in 2000’s romance High Fidelity, “The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art.”

Although the mechanisms of mixtape making have more or less faded into the past, the essence of music compilation has not. In fact, it has merely adapted to contemporary technology. Namely, online music streaming platforms.

Image of Barney Stinson’s Get Psyched Mix CD from sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”.

Music these days are rarely appreciated on cassette tapes, vinyl records or even CD’s anymore. The torch has been passed down to companies like Apple Music or Spotify.

It is Spotify’s unique capacity, however, to integrate both music as well as social interaction onto its platform that makes it unique—and spark hope for the next generation of aspiring mixtape makers.

One of Spotify’s most marketable points also consists of its ability to be completely customizable to each listener. Adieu to the days of acquiring new songs via car radio.

Images courtesy of my Spotify profile.

You called and Spotify is answering—quickly. There is no limit to your music. Literally.

With features such as ‘Create Similar Playlist’, Discover Weekly as well as the song recommendations at the bottom of every one of your playlists, there is virtually no end to a Spotify user’s music library.

It is unsurprising to find that having such a deep level of personalization would foster a new age of mixtape making. Recent years has witnessed a surge in the popularity of Spotify playlists.

Playlists centered around a particular mood, emotion or situation started to emerge on every Spotify user’s account overview. When the ability to create customizable playlist covers arose just last year, the Spotify playlist movement had reached tenfold.

This trend all but missed the students of SAS. According to a survey conducted of 30 random SAS high school students, 21 of them had admitted to creating multiple Spotify playlists.

When asked to follow up on their response about why they spend time finding music to compile into playlists, high school junior Nikki Remedios admits, “I don’t know how I started making [Spotify playlists], but I always felt like it was part of the platform. It made Spotify unique.”

Regarding the Spotify community, fellow Eye reporter Cassandra Lundsgaard reveals, “I feel like a person’s playlist says a lot about their personality. The type of songs they listen to kinda gives me a sense of who they are before I even meet them.”

High school senior Joanna Effendy also shares her experience and explains, “I have Spotify playlists for when I’m studying, when I’m on the bus, when I’m happy, etc. It’s hard to describe why. It’s a certain kind of aesthetic, I guess. It gives me a sense of organization, too. They’re also really fun to make.”

Regardless of how or why these playlists are made, it is evident that the craze behind mixtape making has only adapted to modern demands, and that it continues to grow with every new music release.

Perhaps in a couple of years, a new rom-com will surface, and the main protagonist will present his S.O. with a Spotify playlist.

Author: Anyu Ching

Anyu Ching is currently a senior in high school, and this is her third year as a reporter for The Eye. This year, she joins the staff as the Editor-in-Chief. Anyu was born in Singapore, but grew up in Tokyo, Japan, and spends most of her time flying back and forth between the two. Some of her hobbies include rewatching How I Met Your Mother for the seventh time, listening to The Strokes and rating coffees. Although she prefers phone calls, she can always be contacted at ching41287@sas.edu.sg.

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